THE Dragons saw a half-time lead whittled away in a derby for the third time this season after an ex led a comeback that saw the Ospreys take the spoils at the Liberty Stadium.

The Rodney Parade region were dreaming of a famous away win – and their first on the road in the Guinness PRO14 since Treviso in March, 2015 – when they led 17-10 at the break thanks to interception tries by scrum-half Rhodri Williams and wing Hallam Amos.

However, it was turned around by the Ospreys thanks to a former Dragon with full-back Dan Evans helping himself to a personal bonus point by adding three tries to his early opener.

Free Press Series: HERO: Dan EvansHERO: Dan Evans

That condemned the Dragons to a 42nd loss on the spin away from home in the league and they could have few complaints after being bossed in territory and possession.

They showed admirable battling qualities to hang on in there, spirit they will need if they are to end the hoodoo in South Africa when they face a double-header against the Kings and Cheetahs.

But more than was needed in Swansea and there was a sense of inevitability about the result with the Ospreys finding their composure to follow the lead of Cardiff Blues, who turned it around at Rodney Parade and the Arms Park after trailing at the break.

Free Press Series: TRY TIME: Rhodri Williams races overTRY TIME: Rhodri Williams races over

The Dragons ended a four-year derby drought when they beat the Ospreys at the end of December and headed west looking for just their second double over the Liberty Stadium region, bidding for a repeat of 2010/11 when a teenage Toby Faletau had sparkled in Swansea.

They fielded Wales Grand Slam winners Aaron Wainwright and Ross Moriarty in a hope for similar back row spark.

The Dragons had a lucky escape after four minutes when a Justin Tipuric try was chalked off by the TMO after a pass from one Davies to another, scrum-half Aled to lock Bradley, was marginally forward.

It was short-lived.

The Ospreys put the squeeze on at the scrum to turn the ball over and after working into the 22 spun the ball wide right for an embarrassingly easy try for ex-Dragon Dan Evans that Luke Price converted.

It was one-way traffic… yet level in the 19th minute just when the Ospreys looked set to stretch further away.

They were piling the pressure on in the 22 when Dragons scrum-half Rhodri Williams snaffled a long pass by opposite number Davies and went over from 90 minutes, just evading the desperate cover of Tipuric and his longer legs.

Tovey converted before Price pushed a long-range effort from the tee.

Moriarty was providing plenty of go-forward and one of his big carries led to a penalty for not rolling away that allowed the visiting fly-half to pass 1,000 points for the Dragons and, more importantly, earn a 10-7 lead after 28 minutes.

It got even better when the Ospreys provided another gift with Blues-bound Hallam Amos this time the beneficiary.

The Wales wing boomed a kick into the air and when it fell loosely his Six Nations teammate Owen Watkin threw a blind pass that was picked off for a seven-pointer.

The Dragons suffered a blow when centre Tyler Morgan was forced off with what looked like an injury to his right shoulder and their lead was reduced by three points when Price slotted a penalty before the break.

Free Press Series: COLLISION: Bradley Davies carries hardCOLLISION: Bradley Davies carries hard

Another blow followed when captain and hooker Richard Hibbard failed to return for the second half, an another when they conceded just two minutes after the restart.

Errors galore led to the Ospreys going from their 22 to the other, where the ball was worked left for Evans to score his second after the Dragons were caught a little narrow in defence.

The Dragons stayed in the lead as Price missed the touchline conversion and the hosts compounded errors, knock on and then breakdown offence, to allow Tovey to make it 20-15 after 45 minutes.

But the Ospreys had their noses back in front in the 53rd minute thanks to a terrific line by Evans, the full-back going over from Price’s short pass in the 22 before the fly-half added the conversion.

The Dragons were being dominated in terms of territory and possession yet were still in the game on the hour, just 22-20 down.

Any score would put them back in front and it looked possible when wing Jared Rosser got his hands to Scott Baldwin’s pass.

However, he failed to gather the ball and it looped into the hands for Evans to cross for his fourth, with replacement fly-half Sam Davies adding the killer blow with a touchline conversion.

The Dragons kept battling in a bid for a losing consolation but, in keeping with the game, saw that hope extinguished when pinned in their 22.

Ospreys: D Evans, H Dirksen, C Allen, O Watkin (M Aubrey 77), K Giles (L Morgan 74), L Price (S Davies 55), A Davies, N Smith (J Lay 63), S Baldwin (S Otten 63), T Botha (M Fia 55), A Beard (L Ashley 74), B Davies, O Cracknell (S Cross 76), J Tipuric (captain), J King (S Cross 40-49).

Scorers: tries – D Evans (4); conversions – L Price (2) S Davies; penalty – L Price

Dragons: J Williams, J Rosser, T Morgan (D Howells 35), J Sage, H Amos, J Tovey (J Lewis 63), R Williams (T Knoyle 63), B Harris (J Reynolds 74), R Hibbard (captain, R Lawrence 40), L Brown (L Fairbrother 63), M Williams (J Davies 55), M Screech, A Wainwright, T Basham, R Moriarty (L Greggains 77).

Scorers: tries – R Williams, H Amos; conversions – J Tovey (2); penalties – J Tovey (2)

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)